06/05/2004
Press Release
SC/8086



Security Council                                           

4962nd Meeting (AM)                                         


SPEAKERS IN SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOME CONTINUED PROGRESS


TOWARDS PEACE, PROSPERITY IN BOUGAINVILLE


Strong Appreciation Expressed for UN Observer Mission

In Facilitating Weapons Destruction, Implementation of Peace Agreement


Following a briefing on the latest developments in Bougainville by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Danilo Türk, speakers in the Security Council this morning welcomed continued progress towards peace and prosperity there, especially the high level of weapons destruction and work towards drafting of the constitution and election of an autonomous government.


In that respect, Council members highly appreciated the facilitating role of the small United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB), which had recently been “reconfigured” under the leadership of its new Director, Tor Stenbock.  Most speakers agreed that with inspiration and support of the UNOMB, the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement had been truly impressive, as by the last week of April, more than 80 per cent of the weapons had been destroyed.  Completion of the weapons destruction programme would clear the way for free and democratic elections for the autonomous Bougainville government, to be set up under the Peace Agreement.


Participants in the debate also welcomed assistance of the neighbouring countries, including Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu, and lauded the political will of the Government of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville community leaders.


Stressing importance of continued international assistance in Bougainville, the representative of Papua New Guinea said that a “natural exit point” for the Mission would follow the elections, when the autonomous government would assume responsibility as the legitimate representative of the people of Bougainville.  While foreign aid donors would continue to provide technical and financial assistance, the parties would be otherwise directly and solely responsible for peace building and governance from then on.


Several speakers, including Pakistan, Benin and Algeria, supported extension of the mandate of the Mission. Others, including the Russian Federation and France, expressed readiness to discuss any recommendations on the future of the Mission following the planned visit to Bougainville of the Secretariat team in June.


Japan’s representative, however, stressed that the mandate of any United Nations political mission should be strictly limited to the period deemed necessary to complete its assigned task.  He expressed hope that UNOMB would be able to fulfil its mission as completely as possible in the time remaining before the end of June.  Aware of the need for long-term development assistance, however, his country would continue to extend bilateral assistance in the areas of education, public health and transportation infrastructure that had started last October.


Brazil’s representative said that the Council should encourage regional cooperation, as regional partners were more likely to overcome regional problems.  The United Nations presence on the ground was necessary for stabilization, but success of the peace process relied on the will of the parties themselves.


Despite the progress made, several members of the Council, including Germany, stressed that in order to bring sustainable peace to a country, peace processes had to be inclusive and comprehensive.  Many speakers agreed that more remained to be done.  In that respect, Spain’s representative emphasized the importance of rehabilitation and reintegration of combatants, as well as restoration of the infrastructure, saying that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) played an important role in that respect.  For peace to be lasting, an efficient administration and viable economy must be established, Chile’s representative said.


Taking note of the calls for continued long-term assistance, Mr. Türk in his concluding remarks, said that in completing the current stage of the peace process, one had to keep in mind that the conflict addressed had been one of considerable proportions, during which some 15,000 people had been killed.


Statements were also made by the following members of the Council:  United States, Romania, Philippines, China, Angola and the United Kingdom.  Others participating in the discussion included the representatives of New Zealand (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group) and Fiji.


The meeting was called to order at 10:11 a.m. and adjourned at 11:45 a.m.


Background


The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.


Following a decade of armed conflict over the issue of independence of the island of Bougainville, the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville leaders signed, on 23 January 1998, the Lincoln Agreement on Peace, Security and Development of Bougainville, providing for a permanent ceasefire.  On 30 August 2001, the parties signed the Bougainville Peace Agreementaddressing three major issues:  a three-stage weapons disposal plan, autonomy, and a referendum on the future political status of the Province.  The United Nations has been requested to take the lead role in facilitating the implementation of the Weapons Disposal Plan.


The main parties involved in the peace process are the National Government of Papua New Guinea, the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government (BIPG) headed by the Governor, the Bougainville People’s Congress (BPC), the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), and the Bougainville Resistance Force (BRF). 


In July 2003, the United Nations Political Office in Bougainville (UNPOB) verified and certified the completion of stage II of the Weapons Disposal Plan, thereby triggering the constitutional process of bringing the Constitutional Amendment and the Organic Law on Peace-Building in Bougainville into full operation.  On 17 December 2003, the Peace Process Consultative Committee made a decision on destruction as the final fate of all contained weapons.


On 23 December 2003, the Council took note of the Secretary-General’s intention to downsize UNPOB and to name its successor:  the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB).  UNOMB’s activities will focus on weapons destruction, the constitutional process and, if requested by the parties, the certification of whether the level of security is conducive to the holding of elections.


Briefing the Council on 15 December 2003, Danilo Türk, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, noted that in the area controlled by Francis Ona, progress had been made, but Mr. Ona continued to refuse to contain the weapons of the Me-ekamui Defence Force (MDF).  That position could impact the pace and timing of the contemplation of the BRA/BRF’s decision to destroy their weapons.


Briefing by Assistant Secretary-General


DANILO TÜRK, Assistant Secretary-General, UN Department of Political Affairs, said the Security Council had been informed on 15 December 2003 that the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and the Bougainville Resistance Force (BRF) had agreed on the destruction of all contained weapons.  At the Peace Process Consultative Committee (PPCC) meeting held on 17 December 2003, that agreement had been transformed into a binding resolution.  At that same briefing, the Council had supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to downsize the United Nations Political Office in Bougainville (UNPOB) and to name its successor, the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB), with the mandate, among other things, to monitor the weapons destruction and the Bougainville constitutional process.


He said UNOMB had decentralized the process of weapons destruction, which had helped to expedite the process.  To date, 1,588 contained weapons, or 81 per cent of the BRA and BRF arsenal, had been destroyed.  The UNOMB had already certified that five out of 10 Bougainville districts had completed the weapons disposal programme.  The destruction of weapons had been carried out by the Bougainvilleans under UNOMB’s supervision.  Implementation of the programme represented a significant progress for the people of Bougainville.


At the PPCC meeting held on 25 February, the Papua New Guinea Government had provided the Bougainvillean leaders with its comments on the second draft of the Bougainville constitution.  The Bougainville Constitution Commission (BCC) was working on incorporating those comments into the third and final draft, and was expected to complete its work by the end of May.  The draft would then be submitted to the Bougainville Constituent Assembly (BCA) in June.  Following adoption by the BCA, it would be submitted to the National Government for endorsement, expected to take place by the end of July.


He said the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government had started preparations for the next steps in the electoral process for the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).  It had recently established a Ministry for Peace and Autonomy.  It would seem that the earliest possible time for the election would be the end of November or the beginning of December.


The National Executive Council had delegated police powers and functions to the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government on 17 December 2003.  The Governor had appointed the former leader of the BRF as Bougainville’s first Minister of Police.  The Law and Justice Programs of AusAID and NZAID had further strengthened Bougainville’s policing and judicial institutions.  The Australian Federal Police (AFP) planned to deploy 19 officers to Bougainville.


Addressing the issue of Francis Ona and his supporters in the peace process, he said some progress had been made.  The so-called “A” company, the dominant force in the Me-ekamui Defence Force (MDF) of Francis Ona, had joined the peace process and had last month completed destruction of their weapons.  However, other elements of the MDF had not contained their weapons.  The UNOMB had been informed that the inhabitants of the “No-Go-Zone” were dissatisfied with restriction of the freedom of their movement.  Francis Ona had continued to avoid a dialogue with the Bougainvillean leaders and the National Government.  On the whole, progress had been significant and Mr. Ona’s influence continued to be reduced.


The United Nations Mission had continued to work in close cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other United Nations organizations on the practical aspects of peace-building in Bougainville.  The UNICEF was expected to establish an office in Arawa.  The UNDP had nearly completed preparations for the implementation of its second phase rehabilitation programme for Bougainville.  The UNDP and UNOMB had consolidated their offices in Buka, which had led to a reduction of their operational costs.


The peace process in Bougainville had become a success story, he said and called on the parties to keep the momentum and urged them to double their efforts to complete the Bougainville constitutional process, opening the way to the election of an autonomous government as soon as practicable.  The UNOMB would continue to assist them in that endeavour in every way possible, he said in conclusion.


Statements


MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria) welcomed the progress made in Bougainville.  After successes in phase II of the peace process, he noted that phase III –- disposal of weapons -- was now under way, with some 80 per cent of the collected arms destroyed.  He also welcomed the progress in the constitutional process and work towards the elections for the autonomous government of Bougainville.  Delegating police functions to the interim Bougainville Government was a significant step forward.


Socio-economic development was crucial, and the donor community needed to provide assistance to Bougainville, he continued.  That should include assistance from international agencies.  The natural exit date for the United Nations Observer Mission was at the point of elections and the establishment of the autonomous government of Bougainville, and he supported the extension of the Mission until that date.


STUART HALLIDAY (United States) welcomed the progress in weapons disposal and the work of the Observer Mission, as well as the work of neighbouring States, which had contributed to the peace process.  He appreciated the work of the regional players, in particular, Australia’s efforts in establishing the Governance and Implementation Fund.


The UNOMB had achieved significant progress, and it was encouraging that work on the final draft of the Bougainville constitution was proceeding, he said.  It was critical that the people of Bougainville could decide on an autonomous government, and it was important to set the date for elections.


WOLFGANG F.H. TRAUTWEIN (Germany) commended the success achieved by the parties and the UNOMB.  He said that adoption of the Constitution would be a milestone leading to elections, and hoped that the Papua New Guinea Government could approve it this summer.


He said the success of the political process would depend on the completion of the disarmament programme and, therefore, welcomed the destruction of the weapons so far.  He called on all parties to continue to remove weapons from all combatants and expressed hope that south Bougainville would soon join in phase III of the weapons disposal programme.  In order to bring sustainable peace to a country, peace processes had to be inclusive, he said, and welcomed progress on the issue of Mr. Ona.  It was now time for the parties and the international community to address the social and economic problems of Bougainville.


CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said his country had expressed satisfaction last December with the conclusion of phase II of the weapons containment programme.  Work on the constitution and the weapons issue over the last five months had been encouraging.  Chile encouraged the parties to finalize the third and final draft of the constitution.  For peace to be lasting, an efficient administration and viable economy must be established, he added.


ANA MARIA MENENDEZ (Spain) acknowledged the positive developments in Bougainville, including the progress in arms disposal.  Communities and combatants in the south had laid down their weapons, and hopefully the Constitutional Commission would conclude its work soon.  The timetable should be complied with in its entirety.  The same applied to free and fair elections for the Bougainville autonomous government.


Nonetheless, the process must go much further, she said, emphasizing the importance of rehabilitation and reintegration of combatants, as well as restoration of the infrastructure.  The UNDP played an important role in that respect.


MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said his delegation was encouraged by the steady progress in the peace process, achieved with the assistance of a small United Nations mission.  Good news also related to talks between the national Government of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville leaders on the final draft of the Bougainville constitution.  Romania was confident that the parties would soon take a decision on the timing of elections for the autonomous government and would make the necessary preparations in that regard, with the support of UNOMB. 


He expressed the hope that the progress in the political process would be followed by developments in the economic field.  Romania appreciated the efforts of the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville leadership to promote the peace process.  All the positive developments testified to the readiness of the people of Bougainville to move towards political normalization and development.  He also emphasized the role of the neighbouring countries and specialized agencies in supporting the peace process.


RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) welcomed recent developments in Bougainville and fully supported the United Nations involvement in the peace process there.  He commended the leading United Nations role in facilitating the Weapons Disposal Plan.  He also welcomed steps taken in improving the police and access to courts.  The international community must continue to give priority to reintegration of former combatants, he said and hoped the parties could overcome their differences and provide conditions for free and fair elections.


In particular, he commended the efforts of the Pacific Island Forum in overcoming the conflict.  The Council, he said, should encourage regional cooperation, as regional partners were more likely to overcome regional problems.  The United Nations presence on the ground was necessary for stabilization, but success of the peace process relied on the will of the parties themselves.


MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said things were moving in the right direction with the establishment of autonomous institution, completion of the weapons containment programme, and the approaching adoption of the constitution and elections.  Remaining concerns included the precarious security situation, however, as the Bougainville police forces were still small and not sufficiently trained.


However, overall development in Bougainville was satisfactory, he said.  While awaiting the report of the Secretariat team that would visit Bougainville in June, he said the international community should probably continue its efforts in three areas after the UNOMB mandate expired on 30 June:  support the transition; assist in preparations for elections; and assist in development.


LAURO L. BAJA (Philippines) welcomed the encouraging results in the peace process in Bougainville under the continued political presence of the United Nations through the Observer Mission.  Among the latest developments, he listed the agreement to destroy all contained weapons, which had acted as a catalyst to increase the momentum in the political and constitutional process.  His delegation looked forward to the completion of all stages of the constitutional process before the end of next month.


A stable security environment and the finalization of the constitutional process leading to the adoption of the constitution would provide the conditions needed for elections, he said.  Together with the practical rehabilitation programmes in the economic and social field conducted by United Nations agencies, the peace process was expected to continue to mature.  Those were additional building blocks to further consolidate the peace process.  It was also important to acknowledge the important contribution of other countries in the region.  Such efforts would be even more important in the future to sustain the momentum for Bougainville’s development.


He concluded that success of the peace process in Bougainville was now on the horizon.  His delegation was ready to support measures that the United Nations would undertake to complete the achievement of that success.


ZHANG YISHAN (China) thanked Mr. Türk for his briefing and expressed appreciation for the work of the Observer Mission.  The peace process in Bougainville was now at a crucial juncture.  Much had been achieved in the collection and destruction of weapons; the drafting of the constitution was in its final phase; and the text would soon be submitted to the Government of Papua New Guinea.


He commended the goodwill of the parties and expressed hope that efforts to achieve durable peace and stability in Bougainville would continue.  He appealed to the agencies and donor countries to provide assistance for post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation of ex-combatants in Bougainville.


ISMAEL ABRÃAO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) welcomed the progress achieved in the three crucial areas of the peace process:  weapons disposal; constitutional process; and the future political status.  The third stage of the weapons disposal programme was running satisfactorily, and he hoped the process could be concluded by the end of June.  The delegation of police functions and powers, strengthening of the law and justice sector, and progress in the draft constitution had been remarkable achievements, to be credited to the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainvilleans.


Successful implementation of the peace agreement required further efforts to create a level of security conducive to the holding of elections, he said.   Economic development was among the priorities for establishing lasting peace.  He encouraged the donor community to support the peace process and commended the role played by the international community and neighbouring countries in providing support in post-conflict peace-building.


JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin) said significant progress had been made in the peace process, as well as in the military and political processes.  Efforts must be continued in order to lead the process to a successful conclusion and make Bougainville a weapons free zone, finalizing the constitution and having autonomy.


He underlined the importance of security in order to have elections and urged former combatants outside the peace process to immediately join efforts by the international community to complete the process.  He supported strengthening the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme and urged the strengthening of reconciliation programmes.  He supported extension of the mandate of UNOMB to the end of 2004.


JULIAN KING (United Kingdom) said that the progress achieved was a testament of the determination of the parties to move the peace process forward with the assistance of the reconfigured United Nations mission.  He welcomed the fact that significant percentage of weapons had been destroyed, and several districts were now clear of weapons.  He also acknowledged progress in the drafting of the constitution and development of the police.


That said, it was clear that continued determination and vigilance, as well as international support, would be required to keep up the momentum.  He welcomed the intent of the Papua New Guinea’s Government to work towards elections in the time frame indicated by Mr. Türk.


VADIM S. SMIRNOV (Russian Federation) thanked Mr. Türk for the detailed information he had provided and said that his delegation was pleased that the political process was continuing to move ahead.  He welcomed the commitment of the Government of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville communities to their agreements. He also appreciated their efforts to find agreed and mutually accepted solutions.  His delegation was pleased that the sides had completed work on the second draft of the constitution and were now working on the third draft.  He hoped it would be possible to complete that work next month. 


Welcoming the progress made in the destruction of the weapons, he stressed that complete implementation of the weapons disposal programme was absolutely essential.  A lasting settlement was impossible, unless the peace process included all those who were currently outside.  In that connection, he noted the determination of the parties and the international community to make the peace process truly comprehensive.


He welcomed support provided in the post-conflict peace-building by the UNDP and the donor community and noted the role of the regional bodies in fostering the socio-economic development of Bougainville.  The role of the Observer Mission was extremely important, and he was willing to discuss any recommendations on the future of the mission following the planned visit to Bougainville.


Speaking in his national capacity, the President of the Council, MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), expressed appreciation for the facilitating role of the United Nations mission over the last few years.  He also commended the efforts of all the parties to find a peaceful solution, in particular, Papua New Guinea’s strong commitment to peace.  Pakistan urged the parties to complete the constitutional and electoral processes. 


It had been heartening to hear from Mr. Türk today that the efforts in Bougainville constituted a success story, he continued, urging the donor community to finance the peace process and promote socio-economic development there.  The weapons disposal was a crucial step, which was expected to prepare the ground for the elections for an autonomous government of Bougainville and the eventual holding of a referendum in accordance with relevant agreements.  The tasks of the Mission included destruction of weapons, monitoring of the constitutional process and facilitating talks between the parties, as well as confidence-building measures.  Such efforts needed to be supported by the international community and the Council.  Pakistan fully supported the extension of the mandate of the Mission for another year.  That would enhance the realization of the objective of peace.


ROBERT AISI (Papua New Guinea) expressed gratitude to the Council for its positive and creative response to his country’s request for the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB) to remain and continue supporting the Bougainville peace process on the ground.  In the last few months, there had been several significant milestones on the way towards self-sustaining peace.  They included the withdrawal of the last in a series of neutral regional supporters, the Bougainville Transition Team made up of unarmed civilians from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu.


At the end of February, the parties had bid farewell to a trusted friend –- the Director of United Nations Political Office in Bougainville (UNPOB), Noel Sinclair, he continued.  The parties had then been pleased to receive UNOMB and its new Director, Tor Stenbock.  Prior to that transition, the peace process had passed one of the most significant milestones on the way to lasting peace when the PPCC had resolved in December that the guns contained under the agreed Weapons Disposal Plan would be destroyed.  The guns must be treated so they “cannot be used again, recovered, repaired, used for spare parts, or employed ... to make or support threats”.


With UNOMB’s inspiration and support, the implementation had been truly impressive, he said.  By the last week of April, more than 80 per cent of the guns had been destroyed.  Guns which had been removed from containers in 2002 continued to be recovered and destroyed.  Former combatants from the remaining “no-go zone” around Panguna were joining in.  The prospects for completing the process in the next few weeks were strong.  While that did not mean that Bougainville would be completely free of the presence and threat of guns, former combatant groups would have contained and destroyed their guns.


That would clear the way for free and democratic elections for the autonomous Bougainville government to be set up under the Bougainville Peace Agreement, he said.  All of the parties involved in the peace process continued to urge Francis Ona and his successors in the “no-go zone” in central Bougainville to lower the psychological barriers, remove the remaining roadblocks and join in working for lasting peace by peaceful means.  Progress towards that objective received support from the efforts to strengthen policing and other aspects of civil authority on the ground, including the delegation of police functions and powers from the national Government to Bougainville, as provided in the Peace Agreement.  Valued financial and technical support was being provided by Australia and New Zealand.


Priorities included promoting awareness and building capacity, both nationally and in Bougainville, he stressed.  Currently, consultations were under way to promote a cooperative approach to preparing the constitution for the autonomous Bougainville.  In fact, members of the bipartisan national committee led by the Minister for Inter-Government Relations were in Bougainville this week to meet and exchange views with the Bougainville’s constitutional commission.  The leadership of Bougainville had already agreed to arrangements for the Bougainville constituent assembly, which would consider the draft constitution as soon as the final draft had been completed.


The draft constitution was expected to be ready for endorsement by the National Executive Council for consistency with the national Constitution, as amended by the laws implementing the Peace Agreement, by mid-year, he continued.  In that context, he drew the Council’s attention to the agreement giving the force of law in his country’s Constitution that differences over whether conditions were conducive to holding elections in Bougainville would be referred to UNOMB for resolution.  That made it critical that the Office remained on the ground until the autonomous Bougainville government had been elected.  Until then, the Office also had an important role to play in continuing to chair the PPCC.


Following the elections, the autonomous government would assume responsibility as the legitimate representative of the people of Bougainville under the agreed arrangements.  That would mark a natural exit point for UNOMB.  While foreign aid donors would continue to provide technical and financial assistance, the parties would be otherwise directly and solely responsible, from then on, for future peace-building and governance under the Bougainville Peace Agreement.


He said that Papua New Guinea appreciated its overseas partners’ continuing support and cooperation.  The Government was determined to take a proactive approach, and it had decided to set up a new ministerial committee to plan and implement a vision for a Bougainville that remained at peace.  In striving to define and mobilize resources for that vision of peace, his country would continue to look to the United Nations for continuing help and support.  That included the Council’s response to a formal request for UNOMB to continue until it had fulfilled its agreed responsibilities and until the autonomous Bougainville government had been elected.


DON MACKAY (New Zealand), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group, welcomed continued progress towards peace and prosperity in Bougainville, especially the high level of weapons destruction and the number of recent important reconciliation ceremonies -– a very positive sign.  The Group acknowledged the role of the United Nations Observer Mission in that respect.


At the same time, he continued, the Group remained conscious that there were still many weapons at large in the community and urged all parties to continue work to remove them.  The current period was a significant juncture for Bougainville.  Important progress had been made, thanks to the hard work of the Papua New Guinea Government and Bougainvillean representatives.


More remained to be done, of course, particularly in the build-up to Bougainville elections.  He encouraged the Papua New Guinea Government and Bougainville leaders to move ahead with the preparations for the Bougainville elections as soon as possible to build on the good faith shown by all parties in progressing towards peace.


The international community remained willing to assist, he said.  The Group would support the extension of the Observer Mission for a limited time to assist with those preparations, as envisioned in the Peace Agreement.  The Group had maintained for some time that Bougainville was ready to move on from the formal peace process to a new focus on law and order and economic development.  Of course, the autonomy envisaged in the Bougainville Peace Agreement would only be sustainable with appropriate and affordable institutions, underpinned by economic growth.


It was important for the population of Bougainville and the rest of Papua New Guinea to know that the international community remained engaged in their future, he continued.  Regional partners, including Australia and New Zealand, had been extensively involved in economic and social development projects and capacity-building.  The joint Australia/New Zealand strategy for law and justice included the training of recruits for the autonomous Bougainville police force, as well as a range of coordination and infrastructure projects.


KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that as the expiration date of the UNOMB mandate was fast approaching, it was essential for the people of Bougainville to exercise their ownership in accelerating the peace process.  He was pleased to see how positively Bougainvilleans had responded to the work of weapons disposal.  His country would continue to extend bilateral assistance in the areas of education, public health and transportation infrastructure that had started last October.


Regarding the expiration of the UNOMB mandate at the end of June, he said that, although he was aware of the necessity of a long-term commitment -- including assistance for economic development -- on the part of the international community, the mandate of any United Nations political mission should be strictly limited to the period deemed necessary to complete its assigned task.  He, therefore, strongly hoped that UNOMB, in the period between now and the end of June, would further intensify its work, so that it would be able to fulfil its mission as completely as possible in the time remaining.


ISIKIA R. SAVUA (Fiji), aligning himself with the statement on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, said the question of Bougainville was very close to Fiji, both in the regional peace process and culturally.  There had been concern over the possibility of the Bougainville problems spilling over to neighbouring countries if not properly addressed.


Noting that the Papua New Guinea Ministerial Committee on Bougainville had been established to look beyond the current stage of the Bougainville peace process, to coordinate planning, and implementation of the National Government responsibilities in Bougainville, he said that initiative complemented the United Nations’ exit strategy.  Until that exit date finally arrived, the United Nations’ role in promoting good governance and sustainable peace-building was absolutely essential.


He commended the Bougainvillean leaders for their support of the “bottom-up” approach of the peace process.  That approach, he said, had representation from all sectors participating in the process and would lead to the orderly achievement of agreed outcomes with all deliberate speed.  While security from conflict was a commendable first step, it had to be accompanied by plans and programmes that addressed the economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems.  Issues such as water, sanitation, human settlements, and the aspiration of women, youth and children were some that needed to be properly considered.  He supported the request from Papua New Guinea for United Nations assistance.


In concluding remarks, Mr. TÜRK assured speakers that the content of the discussion would be conveyed to the mission in all its aspects.  The United Nations would continue efforts to complete the mission successfully.


He said that, in completing the current stage of the peace process, one had to keep in mind that the conflict addressed had been one of considerable proportion, during which a reported 15,000 people had been killed.  He had taken note of the fact that speakers had urged for long-term assistance.


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